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The 'Kellogg world' unites for international study in Israel

Each year, Executive MBA students from the Middle East, Europe, Asia and North America gather in Evanston for International Live-in Week, an opportunity to learn about other business cultures and to establish professional and personal networks around the world.

Participants in the August 2004 Live-in week decided that this was "not the end, but the beginning of a tradition," and they began plans for a Kellogg School International Live-in Week in Israel.

In January, students from Evanston, the Recanati Graduate School of Management at Tel Aviv University in Israel, WHU-Otto Beisheim Graduate School of Management in Vallendar, Germany, and the School of Business and Management at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in China convened in Israel for another international immersion experience. Classes represented included KR-08, KW-07, KH-07 and EMP-59 and 60.

Together they made it an unforgettable week.

According to participants, one of the week's highlights was a behavioral finance sequence taught in a bright and original way by professors Thomas Lys and Margaret Neale.

Time away from class was equally memorable. Many visiting students chose to begin the New Year in Israel, arriving on Dec. 31 in the midst of celebration. In the following paragraphs Kellogg School participants describe for Kellogg World readers some of their impressions of the Israeli culture during their time in the country.

From Patricia Harris, EMP-60: "My New Year's Eve in Tel Aviv was like no other. I arrived at the airport that morning where Avi (who was on my team for the week) was there to greet me. It was a beautiful sunny day and we set off for brunch at a restaurant by the Mediterranean. There we met up with the other members of our team, Raffi, Michel and Samson KR-O8 and Tiffany KW-07, who had also arrived that morning.

Later that afternoon, Tiffany and I attended synagogue with our host family, the Abadis (Michel Abadi KR-08). The music was especially beautiful, as there was a guest cantor and an a cappella group. The friendliness of people in greeting each other made an impression on me.

This was followed by Shabbat (Sabbath) dinner at their home with two other guests. I felt fortunate for an opportunity to learn more about Jewish traditions. And, on top of that, dinner was excellent!

Later that evening, Udi swung by to give Tiffany and me a ride to a New Year's Eve party at Jaffa, an old port city south of Tel Aviv. We had heard New Year's Eve isn't celebrated in Israel like it is in the States. Wrong! Jaffa was humming.

We went to a great place known for its food and variety (belly dancers in one area, disco in another and a small combo playing in a third area). Best of all was seeing familiar faces. It was a like a class reunion, gourmet buffet and international tour all rolled into one great event!"

One evening, a big group of students dined in Jaffa. As Olaf Salm, KW-07, describes: "Besides the content of the behavioral finance course, the international students had the chance to experience the variety of the Israeli kitchen. To boil it down: The Orient is not far away and its culinary influence on food is visible in every respect. One of the unforgettable experiences was a visit to the Itizk Hagadol restaurant in Jaffa. Dinner included hummus (a dip made of chickpeas and olive oil), kabbab (barbequed meat), tehina (a sesame dip) and delicious salads.

After five full days of studies, the class was ready for a new type of challenge. Friday began very early for all of us. Almost everyone was up on their feet and on the buses at 2:30 a.m. The goal this time was to climb Massada before sunrise!

As our colleague from Germany, Marcus Becker, KW-07, describes: "One of the highlights for students from all over the world was the trip to the lowest point on Earth: The Dead Sea Valley. Our first stop was Massada. Towering 430 meters above the Dead Sea, Massada (Hebrew for "fortress") is a craggy, boat-shaped mountain that Jewish kings used as a natural impregnable fortress. These kings equipped Massada with a palace and other buildings, hot springs and a sophisticated cistern system to store rainwater.

"Massada is also an important symbol: During the revolt against the Romans, the last resistance remained here until 73 A.D. In that year, the Romans finished a ramp to attack the citadel, but according to history, all 2,000 Jewish defenders, including women and children, agreed to die rather than be captured by the Romans. So Massada became a symbol of men and women who cherish freedom and the basis for the saying, 'Massada shall never fall again.'

"As we reached Massada at early dawn, we started our trek by following the Roman ramp up the mountain. As we stood on the border between Israel and Jordan, we were overwhelmed by the spectacular sunrise over the Jordanian mountains, and the gorgeous view over the moon-like Dead Sea valley compensated for the sleepless night.

"After breakfast we travelled south along the Dead Sea to the production area of the Dead Sea Works, one of the biggest natural resources factories in Israel, processing natural resources from the Dead Sea."

For those able to enjoy another day of visits, a trip to Jerusalem was in the works for Saturday. As Caroline Rogers, EMP-59, describes: "Jerusalem is a place where many questions were answered. During the visit, I intended to go to Yad Vashem, but instead wandered down the steps to what was labeled the first Holocaust museum in Old Jerusalem. Some of the images were familiar, but no less startling. It struck me that we must always remember.

"In Jerusalem everyone is protecting their rock: the Church of the Sepulcher, the Wailing Wall and the Dome of the Rock. It is the point of origin for many of us: our faith.

"Never again will I read an article about a bombing in Israel and be in a state to turn the page. I now see each of the faces in our class during this week. We were unknowingly ambassadors to each other." 

Finally, Patricia Harris, EMP-60, writes of her hosts for the week: "There is something special about the Kellogg-Recanati class. They are outgoing and friendly — a real pleasure. We could not have had better hosts. The class met all their visitors at the airport and planned a number of very special events. Our team members looked out for us — we were in good hands all the way.

"For those of us visiting from Germany, Hong Kong and the States, the Live-In Week in Tel Aviv was interesting, exhausting (so many things to do!), challenging, fun and informative — the kind of adventure that brings people together. And for that we can thank KR-08, truly ambassadors for the area and a group of people with very big hearts. "

Last, but not least, the hosting students of KR-08 would like to thank our worldwide Kellogg colleagues and friends, the Kellogg School professors and staff, and especially, the Israeli staff who made this week a unique learning experience for all of us.

Patrica Harris, EMP-60, Olaf Salm, KW-07, Marcus Becker, KW-07, Caroline Rogers, EMP-59, Udi Chatow, KR-08, Elite Elkon May-Tal, KR-08 and Pazit Rozenzweig (KR coordinator) all contributed to this story.

©2002 Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University